Is Migration the New Facebook?

Photo by: Albert González Farran / UNAMID / CC BY-NC-ND

By Charmaine Caparas

One out of seven people in the world uses Facebook and one out of seven people alive today is a migrant.

So what, if any, is the connection?

Plenty if we are to believe Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who declared this week that he wants to achieve humanitarian goals with his (vast) private sector profits.

Facebook is already one of the greatest connectors of people that mankind has seen. Zuckerberg has previously said that his company might never have been created if not for the  migration  of his grandparents from Germany to the US.

"None of this could have happened without a welcoming immigration policy, a great education system and the world’s leading scientific community that created the Internet," he said.

Now Zuckerberg is stepping into the humanitarian space hoping to bridge the gap between the private sector’s quest for profit and humanitarian objectives in the developing world.

As it happens, the very conditions that Zuckerberg claims led to the creation of the tech revolution, are equally relevant today. Migration underpins sustainable development when there are appropriate policies for humane and orderly migration governance, which includes focusing on the human rights and well-being of all migrants. 

That’s what’s known as the “high road scenario” for migration and development.

More prosaically Zuckerberg kicked off, a coalition of tech industry giants including Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson aiming to deliver basic Internet services on mobile phones in developing countries.

The new coalition aims to cut the cost of mobile Internet services within five to 10 years by improving the efficiency of Internet networks and mobile phone software. also plans to develop new business models that would allow phone companies to provide simple services like e-mail, search and social networks for little or no charge.

So far so profitable for Zuckerberg and his fellow captains of industry. But what interests us is the awareness he shows about the benefits of migration for sustainable development. 

If we become increasingly connected to one another, we will create a collective consciousness that goes beyond our own families, cities, nation, and make a global movement to attack the big challenges of this world.

“No one company can really do this by itself,” Zuckerberg says of this viewpoint, adding  that small efforts can add up to big changes. Success is only possible if everyone works together.


Charmaine Caparas is a communications specialist for IOM